Bucegi Natural Park Trails
Difficulty: Easy to strenuous
Surface: Mountain and Forest Trails, Waymarked Paths
The Bucegi Natural Park Trails in the Bucegi Mountains (part of the Southern Carpathians), are full of the ingredients that make Romanian history a delicious mix of fact and myth. The Bucegi were the home of the Dacians, an ancient race of Indo-Europeans who first settled present-day Romania, and also of their gods, who included Zamolxis, the supreme being who lived deep beneath its summits in a labyrinth of caves with a retinue of priests-the “Cloud Swallowers.” There are still caves here that have never been explored, and twisted rock formations said to be of an old shepherd woman named Dochia and her sheep, all turned to stone by a terrible, age-old curse.
All of which adds depth and mystery to a region replete with intriguing walking trails. The highest point-Omu Peak (8,218 feet/2,505 m)-dominates a landscape of nine post-glacial valleys, within which there are twenty-two mountain chalets that enable Bucegi Natural Park Trail walkers to explore a web of routes. (Be sure to include the Morar Needles, breathtaking pinnacles of rock set in a natural amphitheater.
Always stay in designated campsites on the Bucegi Natural Park Trails. You may not encounter any Cloud Swallowers, but there are plenty of brown bears capable of some gnarly swallowing of their own.